Driving ambition of Barnsley-based SME backed by Rural Business Grant

A family business which has helped more than 100 people pass HGV driving tests in the past 12 months has invested in expansion.

Premier Fleet Solutions, trading as PFS Training, has opened a new training facility at its Penistone base to help more men and women of all ages gain - or refresh - HGV driving qualifications.

The new training centre was officially opened by the Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor James Michael Stowe, earlier this week. Its independent learning area is called ‘Corrie’s Corner’, dedicated to the memory of former trainer Corrie Ward who passed away in January.

Directors of PFS Training Paul and Sarah Martin secured a Rural Business Grant, delivered by Barnsley Council through the Enterprising Barnsley programme, to cover half the cost of their new facility, complete with AV equipment and laptop workstations.

The Rural Business Grant is supported by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA) and the project is part-funded by the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) via its integrated Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF).

The award-winning company’s new training suite will be used to deliver its portfolio of courses including bespoke driver training packages for individuals; workforce development courses for businesses; and CPC courses, which all HGV/PCV drivers must undergo every five years. The classroom will also be core to the company’s delivery of their new Government-funded HGV Skills Bootcamps for complete beginners looking to start driving careers.

PFS Training has seen demand for its services double every year for the last three years.

Director Sarah said: “We’ve grown dramatically in recent years and helped more people than ever before to gain an HGV licence last year. On top of that, we secured our biggest ever training contract with the Department for Education.

“It’s brilliant that we now have more space and better facilities to deliver our HGV Skills Bootcamps and CPC courses; and to provide every individual with the learning support they need to pass their tests.”

PFS Training also gained grant support to invest in new business software systems which Sarah says has increased speed and efficiency in business admin ‘ten-fold’.

Paul, who has more than 30 years’ experience in driver training, worked alone until partner Sarah joined him in the business just two years ago. The company now employs five team members and has two sub-contracted trainers with plans to recruit a third full-time trainer this year.

Practical driver training is delivered in the company’s existing fleet of learner vehicles - two articulated lorries, a rigid-base 18-tonne lorry, a 7.5-tonne van and a bus.

Paul said “The business has grown exponentially in the last three years as we’ve gone hell for leather to meet growing demand. After being a one-man band for so long, it’s great to be part of a team, creating jobs and helping more people develop HGV driving skills and confidence.”

Mayor of Barnsley, Councillor James Michael Stowe, said: “I’m delighted to officially open this new training suite. Sarah and Paul have accelerated growth in their business over the last few years and, as a result of this investment, they now have facilities in place to support further growth.

“We look forward to seeing them help many more people across the region gain the skills they need for employment in transport logistics sectors.”

Rural Business Grants aim to fund capital projects for small to medium businesses who trade within defined rural areas in Barnsley that will help them grow through improving productivity, developing new products, accessing new markets and/or new customers or visitors. The grants can provide up to 50 per cent funding for projects up to £25,000.

PFS Training helps people learn to drive HGVs, coaches, ambulances, motorhomes, horseboxes, gritters, refuse collection lorries and tour buses. Operating across Yorkshire, the North East and East Midlands, it works with local authorities; companies such as Ken Mallinson, The Pink Link and Wilfreda Beehive and driver recruitment agencies like Recon Services Ltd. To find out more, contact sarahmartin@premierfleetsolutions.com.

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